For myself and hundreds of other Japanese toy collectors out there, there is one brand name which is synonymous with the trade- Bandai.
Bandai is one of the biggest toy making companies in the world and has a colorful, long running history filled with ups and downs and tireless perseverance to the art of toy creation. They're the company behind the S.I.C. line up of figures I previously posted about and are behind the toy lines featured in this article as well- Robot Damashii and Super Robot Chogokin.
Some may ask 'these are separate lines, why are you writing about them together?'
This is because, in my opinion, these lines aren't really all that separate. In my eyes Super Robot Chogokin (SRC) is more like an extension to Robot Damashii (RD) than anything. The figures are more or less in the same scale, they look well together, and thus far robots that are made in one line up don't cross over into the other. So, in order to have a complete collection of similar sized robots, one would have to buy from both sets. Even the names go together, SRC's parent toy line, Soul of Chogokin's Japanese name is Chogokin Damashii, and its all-plastic sister series is called Robot Damashii. Put those together and drop the 'Damashii' and you get Robot Chogokin, just slap a 'super' on there and you're good to go!
Both lines feature figures ranging in height from 11-16 cm (for the regular releases, though there are some Tamashii Web exclusives that are far larger) and use PVC, ABS, and POM as construction materials, though the SRCs being chogokins also means they utilize metal parts and ratchet joints as well. Both lines come packed with accessories like several pairs of hands to recreate famous scenes, almost any weapon used by the robot in the series, and recently (to keep up with Kaiyodo's Revoltech figures) clear plastic "effect" parts.
Robot Damashii originated in October of 2008 as a way for Bandai to update their Mobile Suit in Action! series of Gundam figures and merge this line with it's In Action Off Shoot! spin-off series of action figures which featured non-Gundam robots as well as the second long running Gundam action figure series, HCM Pro. It introduced better articulation, materials, sculpting, and CAD technology to produce toys superior the In Action! series, and also helped Bandai to compete with Kaiyodo's Revoltech series of action figures, which looked and felt superior to the MSiA line up and featured a wide array of figures to choose from. The first releases for the line were Gundam 00 and Arios Gundam from the then airing Gundam 00.
After gaining success with the Robot Damashii line up, Bandai launched the Super Robot Chogokin line up in August 2010 after much hype-building with the release of Mazinger Z, a call back to the release of the first ever Chogokin GA-01 which was also Mazinger Z. With this series, Bandai built upon their experiences gained from Robot Damashii as well as the previously established Soul of Chogokin line of toys (something we'll be seeing in a later post.)
Since then, Bandai has made good use of the two lines to deliver figures that fans previously had either never seen or robots that fans had waited ages to see, such as Bandai's first Gaogaigar figure, Dann of Thursday from Gun X Sword, and Dai Guard. They've also released obscure robot figures such as Doraemon, Fumofuu from Full Metal Panic and Gear Fighter Dendoh.
With theses toy lines, Bandai has give us two great series that I would very highly recommend to anyone who is looking for a cost effective way to get into Chogokin or Gundam collecting, or for anyone looking to get a series that has all their favorite robots in it. As both series continue to evolve and develop toward the ultimate robot toy line, Bandai has made it a habit of keep their audience and competition in mind and I'm sure this will mean many, many more exciting releases to come!
Images from Tamashii Nations website.
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